Back-to-back Iowa Conference champions (2012, 2013)
PELLA — The Central College men’s and women’s cross country teams jumped to a quick start at the Central Dutch Invitational Saturday morning, with the men led by first-place finisher Austin O’Brien (senior, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) in the first meet of the season.
In a four-team field for the women and a seven-team field for the men, both teams placed second. The Central men, ranked first in the NCAA Division III Central Region, were without all-America honoree Eli Horton (junior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) and freshman Isaac Steffensmeier (St. Paul, Fort Madison HS), who were sidelined by injury but are expected to return soon. But the Dutch still placed three in the top five and seven runners finished in the top 30 in a field of 97, scoring 40 points. Carleton College (Minn.), the No. 10-rated team in the region, took the top spot with 36 points and fourth-ranked Loras finished third with 50 points.
O’Brien takes first—O’Brien led the pack with a finishing time of 26 minutes, 19 seconds on the 8,000-meter course. Cole Decker (sophomore, Des Moines, Dowling Catholic HS) placed third (26:41) and Drew Jackson (junior, Johnston) rounded out the top five, crossing the finish line in 27:02.
Junior Timothy Shepard (Knoxville) placed 11th (28:14). Jamie Vander Veer (sophomore, junior, Knoxville) finished 20th (29:21) with Cody Doughan (senior, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) in 21st (29:25). Rounding out the squad, senior Nick Barnes (Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) placed 30th (30:49).
“I am very proud of our men,” said head coach Joe Dunham. “They competed hard, and we didn’t run our full squad. It was nice to see the guys that were running step up when they were needed. It was a good meet to see where we are as a team, but we still have room to improve.”
Eaves leads women— Alyssa Eaves (junior, Johnston) finished sixth in a field of 61 on the 6,000-meter course in 25:36 as the Dutch scored 54 points. Loras College took first with 22 points.
Emma Nelson (senior, Pekin) placed 10th in 26:01 and Daphne Baumgartner (senior, Perry) followed closely behind in 11th (26:11).
“Alyssa ran really well,” said associate head coach Stephen Fyfe. Daphne’s second half of the race was very strong, which is something that we always like to see.”
Sophomore Molly Bramble (Waukee) placed 13th (26:29) and senior Amanda Dunkin (Pella) finished 14th (26:30). Freshmen Andie Arthofer (Zwingle, Dubuque Senior HS) and Maleaha Earnest (Hedrick, Pekin HS) completed Central’s top seven in 16th (26:49) and 17th (26:53), respectively.
“It was a great first meet for the women,” said Dunham. “They ran together in a pack like we have been working on. We learned a lot about our fitness level this meet, but overall, it was a good start to the season.”
The Dutch have two weeks off before running in Northfield, Minn. at the St. Olaf Invitational Sept. 21. The women are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. and the men at 10:45 a.m.